"Who ever said the pen is mightier than the sword has obviously never encounterd automatic weapons."
- – Gen. Douglas MacArthur
The M163 VADS (Vulcan Air Defense System) is a Self Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun (SPAAG) developed by the United States Army to deal with low flying aerial threats. The VADS is one of the many vehicles derived from the M113, essentially a 20mm Vulcan rotary cannon, usually used in fighter jets, mounted on an M113 chassis.
Unlike most anti-air vehicles the M163 does not have an integrated targeting system, instead relying on the judgment and skills of its gunner to engage threats. The M164 VADS is equipped with a radar of a system, but it only detects the range to the target, not the speed or direction.
In Team Yankee
The M163 VADS is an all American Air defense tank. The only weapon of this little tank is the M168 20mm Vulcan Gatling AA Gun, which is capable of close to 3000 RPM. This means that thing has an absurd ROF, 7 while halted and 4 on the move. This is especially epic as the M163 has the special rule Dedicated AA, meaning that it can fire at its full rate of fire (either 7 or 4 depending on if it has moved) at aircraft, rather than only rolling 1 die. The VADS also has the special rule Radar, meaning that it ignores the +1 penalty for shooting at aircraft. This thing will absolutely shred aircraft within its 20-inch range.
If there are no aircraft around, the M163 VADS is quite decent at dealing with lightly armored vehicles and infantry. The M168 Vulcan has an AT rating of 6 meaning that, say, a BMP (either 1 or 2) will only glance this weapon on a 4+. However the Firepower rating is only 5+, so only a 3rd of your penetrating hits will knock out the tank, but mathematically that's still about 2 pens at stationary, or one if you've moved.
As for defense, the M163 VADS has the standard defense of the M113 chassis, except for the top. The top armor rating is 0 because of the gunner's open-topped turret. Long story short, any airborne weapon system with an AT rating greater than 6 is an auto-pen, so make sure you take down aircraft before they tear you a new one (Which you should have been doing anyway). Artillery's ability to hit the top armor also means that these poor death machines should be hidden from any possible spotters.
You get 2 VADS in a platoon for 3 points and 4 for 6.
For the Israeli commander, this unit is a strictly better Shilka in most cases. Its main gun has near identical stats; superior to the Shilka with a faster dash speed, better stationary ROF and front armor that might actually protect you from .50 cal fire and autocannons.
The Shilka has 1 less shot while stationary (ROF 6 vs 7). It also features weaker armor from the front and sides which is only relevant for autocannon fire: anything heavier like a LAW will be going through your soft-skinned chassis. Additionally, the Shilka features much worse dash speeds.
However, your trade off is a weaker top armor which may be a dealbreaker to some players. In a world of infantry dominance, artillery is an autoinclude for almost every combined arms list. This means units with top armor 0 are in serious trouble, given that you have a 50% chance to survive a mortar hit from an AT3 shell, from artillery units like the M106 and the Gvozdika. Additionally, the front armor may prove irrelevant considering the prevalence of AT10 autocannons and light tanks (think T-62s and Leopard 1s) which autopenetrate both the Shilka and VADS alike.
TL;DR: +1 to courage, assault, counterattack. +2 to skill. More vulnerable to artillery than the Shilka. Superior firepower as an AA piece or a fire support vehicle.
The M163 VADS entered service in 1968 as a stop gap vehicle to supplant the M42 Duster as more advanced air defense platforms could be developed (though not always successfully) and was used by both the Americans and Israelis. The VADS was rarely used for its designed purpose, with the notable exception during Operation Peace for Galilee, where an Israeli VADS shot down a MIG 21. Instead the M163 mostly used to support ground forces, like during Operation Just Cause in Panama where a VADS sank a PDF Patrol Boat.
The M163 VADS was integral to Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Battalions which were attached to Mechanized and Armored Divisions in the 1980s. Each Battalion was made up of 3 Batteries of which two Platoons were equipped with 4 M163s (If you were wondering the 3rd Platoon was made up of Stinger missiles). These batteries would then be attached to the Various battalions of the division to provide local air defense, mostly against helicopters in the VADS case.
|US Forces in Team Yankee|
|Tanks:||M1 Abrams - M60 Patton - M551 Sheridan|
|Transports:||M113 Armored Personnel Carrier - UH-1 Huey - AAVP7 - Bradley Fighting Vehicle|
|Troops:||US Mech Platoon - Marine Rifle Platoon - Huey Rifle Platoon - HMMWV Machine Gun Platoon|
|Artillery:||M106 Heavy Mortar Carrier - M109 Howitzer - LAV-M|
|Anti-Aircraft:||M163 VADS - M48 Chaparral - M247 Sergeant York - HMMWV SAM|
|Tank Hunters:||M901 ITV - HMMWV-TOW - LAV-AT|
|Recon:||M113 FIST- M113 Scout Section - HMMWV Scout Section - LAV-25|
|Aircraft:||A-10 Warthog - AH-1 Cobra Attack Helicopter - AV-8 Harrier|
|Israeli Forces in Team Yankee|
|Tanks:||Merkava - M60 Patton|
|Transports:||M113 Armored Personnel Carrier|
|Troops:||IDF Infantry Platoon|
|Artillery:||M109 Howitzer -M106 Heavy Mortar Carrier -M125 Mortar Carrier|
|Anti-Aircraft:||M163 VADS - ZSU 23-4 Shilka - M48 Chaparral - Redeye SAM Platoon|
|Tank Hunters:||Pereh - M150 TOW - Jeep TOW|
|Recon:||M113 Recce - Jeep Recce|
|Aircraft:||AH-1 Cobra Attack Helicopter - A4 Skyhawk|